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Stamp blast


Darren Stamp turned down a job in London to continue hurling with Wexford.

Darren Stamp turned down a job in London to continue hurling with Wexford.

Darren Stamp turned down a job in London to continue hurling with Wexford.

Wexford star Darren Stamp has launched a blistering attack on Croke Park rule-makers - labelling them "a crowd of eejits" and accusing them of taking the "manliness" out of hurling.

Stamp spoke out following the final round of group matches in the Allianz League which saw Wexford preserve their Division 1 status in dramatic fashion with a hard-earned draw against All-Ireland champions Tipperary.

But unemployed Stamp, who also revealed that he has turned down a job offer in London to continue hurling with Wexford, admitted huge sympathy for relegated Offaly.

The 30-year-old Oulart-The Ballagh clubman fumed: "These men in Croke Park are a crowd of eejits -- they haven't a clue. They're sitting down every couple of years and making up stupid rules that are killing hurling.

"A lad might be trying to take the ball off a fella by flicking the ball away but a tip on the hand or hurl is a yellow card. You don't see big tackles or shoulders any more. You're afraid of your life going into a tackle for fear of getting a yellow card.

"But there are lads in Croke Park with nothing to do, coming up with bulls**t rules.


"You can't hit a lad a shoulder any more and it's a free. The 50-50 shoulder has gone out the window. It's nearly a cissy's game now, a bit like soccer. The manliness is gone out of it."

The experienced centre-back feels that the rule-makers have made the game less attractive to spectators.

He warned: "People are not watching hurling like they used, not going to the games.

"But fair play to Dublin, they're after coming on strong and they put the work in. People are starting to follow them. They're in their first final for 65 years and I think they'll beat Kilkenny. I'd have a sneaking feeling for the Dubs -- Kilkenny have a lot of injuries."

Stamp hailed Wexford's great escape as the Slaneysiders followed up a surprise victory over Cork with a priceless draw against Tipp at Semple Stadium last Sunday.

"It's a massive result," he said. "It takes a team coming out of Division 2 a year to get back up to the speed of Division 1 hurling.

"Division 2 hurling is no use to anybody -- it's fierce slow. A lot of people wrote us off, saying we should be down in Division 2. But people have now seen a Wexford team with a bit of heart and confidence."

And Stamp hit out at critics of the Wexford team, admitting that constant sniping had a negative effect on team morale.

"We've been taking hits off everyone," he blasted. "There are experts on 'The Sunday Game' making little of us for the last two years. It's easy for them lads up there getting paid. They're not going up for the good of their health. They're getting paid for criticising us.

"You try not to let if affect you but it does drag you down and seeing these lads, some of them laughing at you, turns your stomach.

"Everybody wrote us off but the draw in Thurles felt like a win. They had a chance with the last puck of the game. I thought the ball was sailing over but it didn't and then I turned around to (referee) Diarmuid (Kirwan) and he said it's all over. I knew the draw would keep us up; I couldn't see Offaly beating Kilkenny in Nowlan Park.

"I feel sorry for Offaly. Last year Offaly had two of the best games of the year against Galway and pushed them really hard. They've struggled with injuries this year and the GAA needs to look at them going down to Division 2 big time."

Stamp's Oulart-The Ballagh clubmate Liam Dunne, an All-Ireland winner with the Model County and the club's current manager, warned recently that Wexford were destined for Christy Ring hurling if the situation didn't improve.

"Liam speaks his mind. I don't think anybody took notice of it," Stamp reflected. "It was in the paper but as Colm Bonnar says, the paper will take ink. Liam would be the best in the world -- a true hurling man and a true Wexford man.

"He was concerned like everyone was, but there are a lot of young lads out there who don't want to hurl for Wexford because we were going so bad. Maybe those guys might think differently now."

Stamp, one of the thousands of victims of the collapse in the construction industry, has also issued an appeal for employment.

Stamp is a FAS-funded coach operating on behalf of the Wexford County Board, but the pay involved is on a par with dole rates.

And he revealed: "I've been offered a job in London. I could start this morning or any morning but I'd have to go over there and hurl with Fr Murphy's. There's work over there but I don't think I'll go. I can't go. I'm building a house and it would mean leaving my fiancée Elaine at home.

"You'd be talking about going over on a Sunday evening and home on a Friday. I've been pouring concrete since leaving school at 17 or 18. But I can do a lot of stuff, a bit of farmwork or driving. I'd turn my hand to anything."

Irish Independent